Since it wasn’t awkward enough for Russell Wilson to have to play his first game for the Denver Broncos against the franchise he’d spent his entire nine-year career with, why not add a little more drama to the pot?
Following an ESPN report released Wednesday detailing the divorce between Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks - and written about on MHR - what was seemingly leading up to an amicable if strange reunion on Monday night in Seattle has instead turned into a lead-in to a main event reminiscent of WWE Monday Night Raw.
The article is chock-full of never-before-heard details and emotions that took place not just this past year but dating back all the way to 2018 when Seattle General Manager John Schneider attempted to trade Wilson to the Cleveland Browns for the No. 1 overall draft pick.
It really is worth a read, and while it doesn’t show bias to either party, it does give a bit of justice to Wilson, who Seattle fans have accused of selfishness, egotism, and who wanted to force his way out.
On the contrary, Wilson was tired of always picking himself off the grass on Sundays and wanted better offensive line protection. He wasn’t on the same page with Pete Carroll in regards to offensive philosophy. He wasn’t thrilled that his front office was working to move him in a not so subtle way.
As Hollywood would put it, there were simply irreconcilable differences, and a split needed to happen. Given that each party clearly wanted different things in the relationship, a cordial separation could be expected, right?
To be fair, though, break ups are rarely cordial immediately after they take place. There are still unpacked bags in Wilson’s new house, and he has to immediately travel back to Seattle to make his debut for the Broncos. When you break up with your significant other, you typically don’t expect to be going over to his/her house for dinner with your new significant on your first date.
In the NFL, or professional sports in general (and now college with the rise of the transfer portal), it is not all that uncommon for major players to switch teams, but while they aren’t exactly crying and hugging one another, it’s usually kept professional.
Peyton Manning received a mostly warm reaction when he returned to Indianapolis in 2013. Tom Brady didn’t get quite as warm a response from New England fans (but in fairness, they are New England fans and are built different), but it wasn’t what anyone would call dramatic.
Pete Carroll apparently wants himself some drama.
He was asked during his Thursday afternoon press conference how he thought Seahawks fans would respond to Wilson’s return.
Read that one more time. “I’ll follow their lead... I think they’ll know exactly what to do.”
Translation: give him hell. And Seattle fans rallied.
There will be many years to cheer for Russell Wilson when his career is over. He did amazing things for Seattle.— Aaron Levine (@AaronLevine_) September 9, 2022
But boo him relentlessly on Monday. He’s big on image, optics. Unanimous hostility from the get-go might surprise him.
Love ya, Russ. But #AlwaysCompete #Seahawks
Russ was always about Russ first, he was just playing the long game. Guys who put team first don’t ask for the biggest contract in the league knowing it kneecaps the team’s ability to sign more good players and then blame management for not signing more good players.— Nate Larson (@n8larson) September 9, 2022
Things were already contentious, but now an NFL head coach has informally just given his team’s fan base the green light to antagonize the man who led them to their only Super Bowl.
It wasn’t that it wouldn’t have been a hostile environment, as Seattle always is a tough place to play, but words like that from a head coach could turn a fan base into Cavs fans following Lebron going to the heat. Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.
Russell Wilson is going to have a lot on his shoulders on Sunday. On one hand, Broncos fans expect great things for him and are certainly not expecting anymore 7-10 seasons with him at the helm. On the other hand, he now can expect a near unanimous chorus of boos (and expletives) thanks to a boost from his former head coach.
Great expectations combined with the knowledge you are about to be mercilessly attacked (verbally) is quite the load.
Wilson, though, has never been one to appear easily rattled or affected by white noise. This is going to be a unique environment, though. It will not be like when Manning returned to Indianapolis or when Brady returned to New England. Rather, as stated earlier, this feels more like a build-up to a wrestling main event when a tag partner who felt betrayed comes face to face with his former friend in the ring.
The man at the center of all of it, Wilson, will need to block out more noise for an opening game than he has in his entire career. We’ll see how he responds Monday night. Until then, the drama will only build.